It’s so surreal to be writing this article about breastfeeding. As a first-time mom, it was one of my worries when I became pregnant. Breastfeeding can be challenging for any mom. So, I’m here to share my complete experience and pass along a few tips I learned along the way.
The first few days of breastfeeding (Don’t give up):
At the hospital, I began breastfeeding immediately after delivery for the very first time. I was a little tired and extremely nervous. Nevertheless, my little one latched on like a champ! I couldn’t tell whether or not my baby was receiving any of the milk from me, but according to my nurse, I was doing just fine.
The next time I attempted to feed my baby, it was a bit more difficult. My little one was falling asleep at the breast and didn’t latch on like she did the first time. I tried holding her differently, but it still didn’t work. Again, I was beginning to worry about whether my milk supply was too low and if that was the problem. I felt like I understood what and how I was supposed to do it, however, it just wasn’t happening. I still couldn’t get it.
Milk Supply and the Lactation Specialist
The hospital offered to have a lactation specialist come in and assist me. I called on this person a number of times throughout my stay at the hospital. Your doctor or lactation specialist will educate you on “colostrum” — the first milk your baby gets when breastfeeding. This milk will last several days after the birth of your baby. Because it’s a small amount of milk, it will seem like it’s not much to you, but it’s everything to your little one.
Upon being discharged from the hospital, I decided to consult with my baby’s pediatrician about receiving additional assistance from a lactation specialist. I felt like I needed more help. What else could I do to ensure my baby was getting the milk she needed? I was given formula to use as a supplement until I felt more comfortable breastfeeding. I appreciated the support I received from the pediatric office and the lactation specialist in addition to the encouragement from my Husband.
How Long to Breastfeed?
It’s recommended by The American Academy of Pediatrics that infants be exclusively breastfed for about the first 6 months. Although I was able to do this, my supply changed because I stopped pumping too soon and my baby started sleeping through the night. It took about a week for me to get my supply back to normal. It felt like I was starting over again. This is why it’s so important to stash your milk as soon as you can. If you plan on going back to work or travel, I highly recommend doing it.
Benefits of Breastfeeding:
- Promotes faster weight loss (you)
- Greater immunity to infection (baby)
- Fewer instances of allergies, eczema, and asthma (baby)
What if I can’t breastfeed?
It’s normal and okay. I have heard women feeling guilty or bad about not being able to do it. I’m here to tell you, not to worry, you have other options.
- Breastfeeding and Lactation Center
- Strictly Pumping
Here are a few tips that helped me:
- Get a manual (good for travel and work) and electric pump (could be free with the insurance company)
- Diet does matter (oats, nuts, lots of water worked for me)
- Stimulate your breast before feedings
- Warm compress (helps milk flow)
- Freeze your milk sooner than later (stash)
- Actually use the Lanolin cream when needed
- Be consistent with scheduling (takes 10–12 minutes to pump)
- Tea (Organic Mother’s Milk) Promotes Healthy Lactation
I have learned so much from being a first-time mom. When you’re breastfeeding it’s a journey that can go well into a baby’s first birthday. My breastfeeding journey has not been perfect but it’s something that I am proud of. The bond I have with my little one makes it all worthwhile. I definitely plan on breastfeeding again the next go-round. I encourage you to try and motivate other women to do so as well.